Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Roofing Visionaries from the industry. All panelists were participants in the 2022 Roofing Visionaries immersive experience held in Chicago and hosted by Jobba.You can read the interview below, listen to the podcast or watch the video.
Heidi Ellsworth: OK, good morning everyone. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and I'm with Roofers Coffee Shop and this is Coffee Conversations. I am so excited. I have to tell you, our whole team at Roofers Coffee Shop is excited about this Coffee Conversations this morning. We are going to be talking with roofing visionaries, yes, visionaries. And what really came together last summer in a true visionary experience that brought out excellent, amazing information that can help the roofing industry take it to a whole new level. So we get to talk about that this morning. It's very exciting.
Before we get started, let's talk a little bit about, this is being recorded and it will be on demand by tomorrow. So you'll be able to share this with your folks, get it out there. So please, let everybody know about it as we share and continue with these great conversations. If you have questions, the chat is open and we would love to have you tell us who you are, say good morning, tell us where you're from and the type of company that you have, of course. So we'd love to hear you all and we're going to get started with this great group talking about roofing visionaries, environment, diversity and technology. We've got a lot to talk about, so let's just get right to it.
I would like to thank Jobba, who is our sponsor this morning. Because not only are they a sponsor, but Jobba is doing some of the most amazing trend setting experiences that you can imagine in the industry. And in fact, that's what today is all about. Talking about their summit and what they did last summer to bring thought leaders together. So Jobba, thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you're doing for the industry and for being such a great partner with Roofers Coffee Shop. OK, so first of all, I would like to introduce our amazing panel. And our first person I'd like to introduce and I'm so happy, Karol, I think this is the first time you've been on Coffee Conversations.
Karol Weyman: Yes.
Heidi Ellsworth: You're always helping and making it work, but this is the first time you're on. So welcome to the show. Karol, can you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Jobba?
Karol Weyman: Yes. Hi, I'm Karol Weyman. I'm the VP of marketing for Jobba. Jobba is a SaaS company, a service provider for the roofing industry. And we are a platform that keeps really listening to the roofing industry and making it better. And we also see the advantages of really getting to understand the issues with the industry so that we can elevate the whole industry as a whole.
Heidi Ellsworth: And you're doing it, you're doing it. Karol, what's your position at Jobba?
Karol Weyman: I'm the VP of Marketing.
Heidi Ellsworth: Awesome. OK. We're going to come back to you in just a minute after we do a few more introductions. And this person really doesn't need an introduction. He is a regular on Coffee Conversations and Roofers Coffee Shop, but John Kenney, welcome to the show this morning. Can you please introduce yourself?
John Kenney: Yeah, good morning, always happy to be here. Great group we got too. Pleasure to be here with everyone. John Kenney, a lot of you know me. Or if you don't know me, I spent about 45 years in my career over on the roofing contracting side. Enjoyed working through just about every position possible. I love the industry, top-notch. I love our industry more than anything. And now, I currently co-founded Cotney Consulting Group. I am the CEO. And what I do now is work in the roofing industry with roofing contractors on whatever their needs may be. So again, always enjoy working with Roofers Coffee Shop and everybody in our industry.
Heidi Ellsworth: Wow. Thank you for being here, John. As always, great. And I am really proud to introduce someone new to the industry who has brought us such great information and is doing such amazing things in Chicago. Brian Lamar Alexander. Brian, welcome to the show. Please introduce yourself.
Brian Alexander: Hey, good morning everybody. My name is Brian Alexander. I am a Chief of Staff at an organization on South Side, Chicago called Project H.O.O.D., H.O.O.D. stands for helping others obtain destiny. We do that in literally any way that we can in order to meet the need. I'm just looking forward to sharing more of our journey with you guys here in just a bit.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's great. Brian, welcome. Thank you so much.
Brian Alexander: Thank you.
Heidi Ellsworth: And from the roofing industry, I am so happy to welcome Jason to our panel. I know you've been on watching a few times, it's your first time on the show. Welcome. Please introduce yourself.
Jason Domecq: Yeah, thanks a lot for having us. It's great to see everybody here. Wow. And I have to say, being on for the first time, it's so great seeing everybody from around the US, from Wisconsin to British Columbia, Iowa, Ohio, Massachusetts, D.C., this is great. So I'm Jason Domecq. I'm one of the co-owners of R3NG here in Denver, Colorado. Super excited to be on here and this is just a great forum. Happy to be a part of it.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's great. We're really excited to hear your thoughts and your experience from last year.
Jason Domecq: Yeah.
Heidi Ellsworth: And then someone who we have been loving, have been involved with National Women in Roofing, has been involved so much with Roofers Coffee Shop. So Lauren, I'm so happy to have you here today. Please introduce yourself.
Lauren Morley: Yeah. Thanks, Heidi. It's good to be here. Super excited. I hadn't been on it, now I think this is my second week in a row on Coffee Conversations.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. It's cool.
Lauren Morley: So yeah. I'm Lauren, I'm the other owner of R3NG. And I've been in the industry, I've grown up in construction, but I've been in the roofing industry for eight years. And like Heidi said, I'm really, really involved with National Women in Roofing and just trying to elevate the industry through different programs. So I'm really excited to be here. This is an awesome group. So super honored to be considered a visionary.
Heidi Ellsworth: It's going to be pretty exciting, I'm telling you what. OK. And last but certainly not least, our friend Michael Black. I've seen you so many times and I'm so happy to have you on the show. And Sutter is such an amazing company. Please introduce yourself.
Michael Black: Yeah, thank you. I'm excited to be here. My name is Michael Black. I am the director of service and maintenance for Sutter Roofing Company. Sutter is a commercial roofing contractor here in Florida and West Virginia. Originally started in 1902. We're a fourth generation roofing company and next year we're going to be a fifth generation roofing company. So looking forward to talking to everybody today.
Heidi Ellsworth: Congratulations. That sounds great. OK. Five generations. That's amazing. OK, we are going to get started. So I am just going to let Karol set the stage on exactly how the summit came about, what happened. Karol, take it away.
Karol Weyman: Well, thank you, Heidi. Yeah. So we call this immersive events, a summit for roofing visionaries because everyone that attended really sets themselves apart from just the daily grind of the roofing industry. And the intention for us all getting together was to gain firsthand knowledge that allowed us to reflect on issues within the roofing industry. And the focus was really focused on rapidly changing technology, economic and social issues. And so we used the term immersive because it wasn't just meetings with PowerPoint, it wasn't getting around a table, it was really a day of thought-provoking experience as we exposed examples of in interconnected systems and communities within the roofing landscape together. And so we considered this a very intimate convening of leaders. That's how we really approached it. In the roofing industry, we were seeking enablers of growth within the industry and we wanted it to be invigorating and reflective.
So our team put together a program with site visits that let our guests see these areas of interest in real time. So we knew it was going to be a powerful day and we brought people together to engage directly with one another with the hope that they'd be a seed for change within the community and within the industry. And so the good news is that we were right. I mean, some of our influencers really understood the mission and they're here today to share their experiences and what they gained from that day and how they really put their words into action from that day. So that was a really amazing day and just to see what has happened since then has been extraordinary. And there's still so much more we can do. So that's my setting the stage for that.
Heidi Ellsworth: Well, and one thing, Karol, I really want to mention too is first of all, I was supposed to be there and I had COVID.
Karol Weyman: Yes.
Heidi Ellsworth: I am so sad. So next time, next time.
Karol Weyman: Yes.
Heidi Ellsworth: But the other thing is I just think it's really important too that Jobba did this not for Jobba. This wasn't to come in and talk about Jobba or to talk about even the software or anything like that. This was really a give back to the industry to bring new ideas. Can you just real quick just highlight on that?
Karol Weyman: Yeah. We didn't want it to be, when people are interested in technology and they want to go find or a service for them, we would like to think that we're front of their minds for something like that. But I think we realize that in the roofing industry and all industries in the whole, there's definitely some issues that are happening that run the gamut. And so we think, philosophically, in our company that we need to solve really tough problems in order to elevate the industry. And then the industry, things will happen eventually for Jobba. And they have.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right.
Karol Weyman: But that wasn't the intent of this at all. And in fact, people would be like, "Hey, why aren't you talking about Jobba?" People were really surprised that we weren't, it wasn't a sales pitch, it wasn't something that we were interested in doing at that time. We really wanted to expose issues and where we can help as an industry. Knowing all the people that attended and all the people that are on this panel, they are extraordinary humans anyway. And the things that they're able to do and when they put their minds to it is just amazing. And you're going to hear more about that during this time.
Heidi Ellsworth: It's really cool. It's really cool. Now, I want to remind everybody the chat is open, so if you have questions, I'll try to intersperse them. We're going to get through everybody. But I will be taking your questions as we go. So here, we're going to Michael. I would love for you, OK, so as Karol mentioned, it was really in three parts. There was sustainability, there was labor and diversity, and then there was technology. So we're going to start on the sustainable side of the part of your visionary summit. And so Michael, can you kind of tell us what that part was about and how it really affected you?
Michael Black: Yeah. Plant Chicago was really a cool experience for me. Plant Chicago is a local organization up there that works to develop and share methods for recycling, sustainability, they let people come in and grow their own food. It was really cool to go in there and see how they do everything, how it works in the community. What really caught my eye is everybody's used to recycling. Everybody at home has recycle bins or whatever, but to hear their vision and the way they talked about it made you open up to you can always do more. So in construction we went beyond just the regular recycling. I got back and started thinking how can we do more?
We did do a bunch of different changes in our company. We installed metal dumpsters, we recycle, we're recycling batteries now in the office. We got recycle bins next to the printers. Just that little bit. You don't have to do a lot, but just doing a little bit makes a huge difference. And they really brought a vision of that you can take something and it can be reused. It doesn't have to go straight to the landfill. You can take that product and it can be reused and reused again. And once you get that mindset going, you start thinking about it, you can really help this planet out, honestly. So I mean, they really did a great job of explaining to me on opening up your mind and thinking beyond just your regular, "I'm just going to put this piece of paper in the recycle bin." Start looking at everything in the company. And what can we do to recycle this? Where can we use this again in another part? So it was a really great experience. They did a really good job up there. I really enjoyed it.
Heidi Ellsworth: And being able to bring that back to your company and with the culture of that sustainability, how does that help the culture of your company overall? I mean, we always want to talk dollars, but it's so important for the culture.
Michael Black: Oh, definitely. It definitely helped. Some of the people were like, "What are we doing? Why are we doing this?" Because they just didn't understand. But some people, it really intrigued them also. It intrigued a lot of us to go in our own local communities and do some more volunteer work and kind of do that same thing. So it does create a good culture. Like I said, some people, you got to explain it to them and make them understand so they get the vision of it. But once they got the vision of it, now we got people in all the office. Like when your wireless mouse, when the battery goes dead, you usually throw it in the trash. Now we got a bin to put that battery in and we take it and we dispose of it properly. So it's just the little things like that that people started catching on and people started doing it. And then to walk around your warehouse and the office and actually see the recycle bins full, that's a good feeling, that you know that people understand it and they got it.
Heidi Ellsworth: And that's something they can, because I think so often, especially in roofing, we think, "Oh, it has to be this big project of shingles and tear offs," and everything like that. But what you really brought was every day back from this journey.
Michael Black: Yeah.
Heidi Ellsworth: That is amazing. OK, we're going to come back to that because I want to make sure we kind of set the stage with everyone. So Brian, we are so excited to hear from you about Project H.O.O.D., Please share with us about Project H.O.O.D., but also about that day when everyone came in and how that really made such a difference.
Brian Alexander: Yeah, absolutely. And thank you guys so much for the opportunity to be here and just for your work. Funnily, when you said that the company was a SaaS company, I was like, "I had no idea." And I think it speaks to how you guys have engaged in this work and I'm just super, super grateful for that. Just for you guys just always leading and helping to connect really, really important groups together, which is really, really appreciated. So at Project H.O.O.D., the H.O.O.D. stands for helping others obtain destiny. Quite literally, it's what drives us, it's a source of the work that we do. Here, on the South Side of Chicago, really quick, the organization was founded by Pastor Corey Brooks, aka, the rooftop pastor. Well, again, just had such a heart for the community and was just so sick of what he was seeing that he decided to put everything on the line and camp out on a rooftop for 94 days to tear down a motel that was really the source of a ton of the violence and sex trafficking, drug trafficking. Out of those efforts, he ended up camping out for 94 days, was able to raise enough funds to tear it down.
Out of those efforts, Project H.O.O.D. was born. We're located in an area that in 2014, the Chicago Sun Times wrote an article calling us the most dangerous block in all of Chicago. And that's something that we really, really took great offense to. And have for the last decade, have just been in action creating programs to help to transform the lives of people on the South Side of Chicago and beyond. We've seen a ton of success. Violence in our is now down 52% year over year. And I think it comes down to a really simple statement, just that we want our guys to put down their guns and to pick up hammers. Right? We really got to get folks to work in our community and help them to really transform their lives as well.
So the latest iteration of this was that for our 10-year anniversary, Pastor Brooks decided to again camp out on a rooftop, but this time not to tear something down but to build something. We are in the process now of raising $35 million to build an 89,000 square foot leadership and economic opportunity center. And I can get into a bunch of that later. But on the back wing of this building will be our trade school. It'll be where we'll be. We'll have automotive trade training, we'll have construction, we'll have carpentry as well, electrical as well. And this is a key component of our programming because it enables us to, despite our folks backgrounds and records, give them an opportunity to really transform their lives as well. And it's something, it was so worth it to Pastor Brooks that he decided to camp out on a rooftop. Literally, it ended up being for 344 days, guys. But in that timeframe we've been able to raise 28 and a half million dollars. We'll be in the ground in less than 60 days. It's crazy. We just signed our contract and we're just super, super grateful as well.
So when Jobba came out to come visit us, it was really just such a great opportunity because initially I was under the impression that, "OK, well, let's connect our kids with some jobs." But it was so, so, so, so much more than that and we're just grateful for you guys. It's leadership and being able to share a lot of our experience with you guys as well about the work that we do. Just to kind of give you a piece of context, our last construction cohort, we had, I think, close to 25 or 30 slots available and we had over 200 applicants. So again, there's a lot of narratives in our community about people don't want to work and blah, blah, blah, but these numbers are this way every single time that we open up our doors for a construction cohort. So we're looking forward to scaling this work and beginning to really understand what the other opportunities are that are available and how we can be helpful in changing the hearts and minds of people in the community and providing some really, really awesome opportunities as well.
Heidi Ellsworth: Brian, we talk day in and day out in the roofing industry about the labor shortage and you just pointed out that there's no labor shortage.
Brian Alexander: Absolutely.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's what we need to hear. Right? We are looking in the wrong places. And so this needs to change. How are the young men and women who are going, who are getting hired and going into the trades, what is the feedback?
Brian Alexander: Man, so funny enough, one of our greatest success stories is actually a group of kids. There were brothers, I think, three brothers and a cousin, who all went through our construction trade training program and all got hired at a roofing company. And it was so funny, a few months back, one of them was talking to our president, Desmond Marshall, who really is super, super hands-on with that program and is largely responsible for a lot of the success along with the rest of our team. They were calling and saying, "Des, I'm getting on a plane." He was like, "You getting on a plane to go where?" He was like, "I'm going to South Carolina because I got a roofing job. Well, I did so well on the first job that now I'm getting on a plane and I'm traveling." This is the kid's first time on a airplane. Right?
Heidi Ellsworth: That is amazing.
Brian Alexander: For us, it's a matter of providing the opportunities, preparing them as well. We do a ton to work with the employers as well, to help to bridge the gap and get them to really understand the opportunities that are available and be as much of a support to them as well as these individuals transition from life in the streets to a life of employment and prosperity and just beginning to really transform their lives. So we're super, super grateful.
Heidi Ellsworth: We are having some comments coming through. Brian, you are inspiring people. So we're going to come back to that. We're going to get through the rest of the day. The next step was to talk with the GAF Roofing Academy and how we can start bringing this to play. So Jason, if you could kind of tell us about your experience and what has happened from there.
Jason Domecq: Sure. So I'll kind of break this up into two different parts. But I do want to backtrack on something that I think Karol and Brian kind of said as well. So when we got invited out to Chicago for this Jobba event, my first thoughts were, "OK, great. This is going to be another great opportunity to kind of learn about some other companies." I didn't have any kind of real clue really what it was about. And like Karol said, it really was a great immersive experience just to see what challenges that Chicago and those areas were facing. And it kind of opened my eyes a little bit that this wasn't really just about Chicago. The things that we all faced as far as providing different kinds of opportunity, levels of education, I think the positive change then ultimately to transform people's lives. I mean, that's really what that whole immersive experience was really about. Was just to expose us to a much greater level of need for just change in our industry to really raise the bar, if you will.
It really was just an amazing experience. And I think how the Roofing Academy kind of came into it, Lauren and I had gotten back from Chicago and immediately had a lunch with GAF, specifically the Roofing Academy. And at that time, they were kind of rolling it out. And so Lauren and I had a discussion with them about really what the program was about and I walked away from that lunch thinking, "Wow, this is exactly what Brian was talking about at Project H.O.O.D.," and I quickly got on a phone call with Karol, "You guys have got to get in contact with these people. This would just be a great opportunity," et cetera. And so really that's kind of, for us, how Roofing Academy in and of itself really just didn't, they obviously have had an impact on us here in Denver, Colorado, which I'll let Lauren explain more, but really about how we can use that as a springboard to help change across the US.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. Sometimes you just don't know what you don't know. Right?
Jason Domecq: Yeah. Yeah.
Heidi Ellsworth: And so this gives you that opportunity to really dive in and say, "OK, we can do things different."
Jason Domecq: Yeah.
Heidi Ellsworth: And you have. So Lauren, I know we were honored to be able to be a part of what you and Jason and your team did there. Tell us about, and I'm going to actually say Megan Ellsworth was, who couldn't be here today. She's traveling today, everyone. So if you're wondering where our producer is. But Lauren, tell us about how you took what you learned from Chicago and applied it into Colorado.
Lauren Morley: Yeah. Yeah, so I was actually on your boat, Heidi. I didn't have COVID, but Jason had a lot of traveling going on in that time and I think I tried up until two days before the experience to make it down there and I couldn't swing it.
Heidi Ellsworth: Oh, OK. So same thing.
Lauren Morley: He was texting me and telling me about it throughout the entire experience. And I'm on board with Heidi, I will definitely be at the next one. And Jason had talked to me a lot about Project H.O.O.D. because just helping people in communities that need it is something that's always been really important to myself and to Jason. And like he said, it was kind of just funny timing. At that time, we'd been trying to get to know the Roofing Academy. They had just come out to Colorado. The lunch Jason was talking about was literally two days after he got back from Chicago. And it just was one of those almost kismet moments where it was so clearly going to be a great partnership for us and for the industry.
So really quick, just for anyone who doesn't know about the academy, basically, what GAF does is they'll partner with their contractors and they'll go across the nation and they'll come out and they will recruit from communities like the South Side of Chicago, people who are in need of finding a new job, a different industry, a second chance. And they will provide a full one week or two week training at no cost to the contractor, at no cost to the students. Training them in whatever it is the contractor is in need of hiring. And then that contractor will get to hire out of that group. And then afterwards, they will place these students within contractors across that state. And it's so incredible to me because, like Brian said, there isn't a shortage, we're just not looking in the right places. Right? Last year, GAF trained 905 people and placed 564 of them in positions across the roofing industry. And to me, it's just one of those things where how do you not take advantage of that? Right?
And then obviously, what Heidi's referring to is we kind of took that, we introduced the academy to Project H.O.O.D., Who is still doing active trainings on a regular basis with them, which is really cool. And then we actually planned a two week all women's class here in Denver, which was really cool. It was a really fun experience. We had 18 women graduate from the program and we've currently already placed about half of them. And we're actually hosting another class the week of June 19th. So we'll be hosting another all women's class. But at the exact same time in a different location, we'll also be hosting an all veterans class as well.
Heidi Ellsworth: Oh, wow.
Lauren Morley: So yeah, it's a great program and it's something that to be able to partner with people like Project H.O.O.D. to really make a difference, it's pretty awesome.
Heidi Ellsworth: I have to tell you, when Megan participated in that with you, Lauren, and spoke about Roofers Coffee Shop, because you just asked her to come speak and Roofers Coffee Shop, she was thinking no one's going to care. Right? No one cares about this. And she walked away with, "This is the most amazing experience I've ever had." And people, everyone does care. And so it's amazing the difference you're making. You and Jason have made in Colorado. Brian, you're making. I mean, this is changing lives, which is so important. So the last step of that visionary day was on technology. And John Kenney, you're so involved with RT3 and everything else, so talk to us a little bit about that final stage.
John Kenney: Sure, happy to. I do want to just back up and let Brian know. Brian, I think the Project H.O.O.D. experience, I've been to a lot of training centers and a lot of programs throughout my career, you're definitely the best I've seen for a couple of reasons. You should be modeled throughout any major metropolitan area in this country. And I think that would help our problem, not only just in roofing but the entire construction and labor force. And what you do is you bring to the community excitement to see what opportunities are out there ahead of them. And I know when I got a chance to speak to the students and the ones going through your program, that's what I got out of it. Everyone was excited and wanted to move in a direction of making themselves better. And my hat's off to you on that and you should be a model around the industry.
Brian Alexander: OK.
John Kenney: So I wanted to just get that out there.
Brian Alexander: Man. Thank you for that, man. Our team is absolutely amazing. They're second to none. And we just really, really appreciate the opportunity to be able to serve as well, John. Thank you.
John Kenney: You're welcome. So now tying into the technology part. Yes, that part was extremely exciting for a couple ways. I was listening to the group and listening to the presentations on the technology, especially the robotics. And one thing that was a general message was what you would expect is excitement for technology and fear of technology. I think what I mean by that is especially today, now you're seeing more and more in AI, I think we're starting to get to it's got great potential, it could have bad potential and I think people are thinking that. But the big thing going back to this is looking at that losing the human touch. We talk about roofing being a human touch relationship. And it is a lot of artisan work in a lot of our areas. But I do think you're going to see the technology melt in and merge in very well, especially when you got the younger generations coming up through that are more apt to using it, more familiar with it, not so scared it.
Couple places that I think you're going to see it. Definitely robotics are going to play a part by looking at what we saw. And I see now, example, they've actually put that ChatGPT into a robot now that we've been seeing from Boston Dynamics out there. And it can communicate back in a human level and take directions and do it. So where would we use that? Material handling. As far as imagine a welder on a single-ply roof that can actually take the temperatures back and put it through an AI sequence and be able to adjust it so you don't have the cold welds or the problems with the start, stop. So that's the exciting stuff I see in it. And also what I like about looking at taking that from a material handling standpoint, take the AI to the next level that they were programming the robots with. You're going to be able to analyze your businesses better for risk management.
And I think you're going to see technology come in in areas that we're going to be able to adopt it, accept it and get familiar with it. And then you'll see it expand out into other areas. And that's where I see a lot of the younger upcoming generation really going to get excited about jumping into our field, to work with that human and technology interaction. So I don't see it replacing the human ability, at least not in my time, but I do see that it's going to be a great mix between the two. And that's what I'm excited about.
Heidi Ellsworth: We are constantly talking about labor and this has solved, what you did last, the vision and really bringing this out, is actually solving so many areas of that. Whether it is getting to new sources like Project H.O.O.D., really being able to, or whether it's talking about robotics and how are we going to bring the industry up with using technology, not having it use us, using it as a tool. I think is amazing. So Karol, kind of on that recap, I mean, you're hearing all of this, you have to just be kind of beaming with pride.
Karol Weyman: Yeah. I think one of the things that Brian talked about when I visit him prior to the actual events, he talked about how exposure is so important. There's a fire that's lit when someone's exposed to something that they potentially have a passion for. So when you think of robotics, you think of recycling and you think of just people, just being exposed to things. I think it's more than a coincidence that Jason met with GAF. I think things align because you are looking for them to align. I think that you're looking for the solution. And I feel like with technology and having it not replace human touch, it's really being able to, it's almost like a marriage. Making sure that humans are focusing on what they need to, like growing their business and solving other problems while this is already figured out. And maybe not a lot of people wanted to be doing that job.
So I think that there's just so many different synergies that happen from that day. And to see them play out, it brings so much pride into what we did, but there's still so much more that we can do. Just being able to have outreach to other areas of the country and talking about the recycling as being reduced, reuse, recycle. But if you can reduce and reuse, you don't have to recycle. So the next step is how do we reduce, how we reuse? But it starts with recycling, it starts with being cognizant of it. So when they say 3% of everything gets recycled, that means 97% is not. So just even being able to move that level, I mean, I have so many things going on in my head right now because of the three different areas that we really were discussing, but it's just such pride. So yeah, thank you for asking that.
Heidi Ellsworth: It is so cool. So I want to bring in some of the questions that are coming in because there's a lot. And so Brian, we're going to be aiming some of these your direction here. And so I want to go back. And Kyle, thank you for being on so much. And he said, "That's right. We just need to tap into the intellectual property that resides in those most neglected areas that we pass up on a daily basis." And of course, he said, "28 million. That's fantastic. Nice work." So what I would like, Brian, how can people across the country, like Kyle said, tap in and how can they help? And also let's hear how they can help you guys to hit that 35 million.
Brian Alexander: Yeah, I mean, well one, just thank you guys for the platform. We're extremely humbled by all of this. This wasn't our intention. Our intention was just to help as many people as possible. So to be here is just amazing. I think that the thing that's important when it comes to understanding how folks might be able to be as much of a contribution as possible, I think it's kind of impossible unless you do what you guys did, which is just show up. Right? You have to show up, you have to come down, you have to see it, you have to interact with the people. And then whatever God places on your heart, it's our job to be a conduit for that work. We understand that a lot of the folks that we serve have criminal backgrounds and records and it precludes them from a ton of opportunities.
So for everything from construction, it was a no-brainer for us. But also, we are working with Dreamworks. If you want to be a computer animator, they also don't care about your background and your record. Right? So we want to be as much of a conduit for real opportunity as we possibly can be as well. And as we move into construction of this facility now, and as you guys all know, construction costs, they went crazy up, they've come down a little bit but not much. And we are, right now, just looking to garner as many partnerships as we can with suppliers of materials, with laborers as well. We're realizing there's just a ton that's going to go into building an 89,000 square foot facility. And outside of the price tag, what we really see is just a true opportunity to be able to fold in some companies, some individuals who really have a heart for this work, a heart for these communities and a heart for transforming lives as well.
So we're grateful to have folks like Ozinga Concrete is coming on and they're donating all the concrete for the project. Related Midwest is going to be donating their services, they're our GC on the project. Trammell Crow Company is our owner's rep. They're donating their services to us pro bono as well. So I think there's just a ton more of these sorts of opportunities that are available. Our models, they work, the lives are being transformed as well. And we look forward to just being more of a conduit and a hub for these conversations as well and connecting our folks in our communities with these opportunities so that they can begin to transform their lives, support their families, and transform this community and communities all over America as well. Of course, if anybody has a check for 35 million, we will absolutely take that.
Heidi Ellsworth: You'll take it. Well, I'm telling you that there are some manufacturers who I think are listening into this too and distributors, obviously a lot of contractors. So anyone who wants to get involved, we can definitely connect. I mean, just look at Project H.O.O.D., but this is the kind of stuff, I mean, I have to tell you, Brian, the roofing industry is amazing at giving back, but sometimes they just don't know where. So this is a perfect opportunity.
Brian Alexander: We're really, really grateful because also we're working on this project, but now that we've kind of gone through this project utilizing new market tax credits, all these things, we're like OK, now that we've proven ourselves by going through the fire, we realize that we're able now to do a lot more. So we're shifting our focus a bit to doing some affordable housing in the area as well. So all that to say, there's just a ton more opportunities that are going to become available and we just look forward to folding in as many wonderful folks and companies as possible as we work to transform the lives of the folks here on the South Side of Chicago.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah, I love it. Well, we have contractors out here. Greg, thank you. He said, "Incredible work. Great work, Project H.O.O.D." And then Michael, I want to take this back to you because I love your comment here. You said, "If I had a company in the Chicago area, I would definitely get in touch with Project H.O.O.D." Yeah.
Michael Black: Absolutely. I mean, right now the labor shortage, especially down here in Florida, it's hard to get anybody just to come to work just to show up. And we go to job fairs, we go to high school trying to recruit roofers. If we had a Project H.O.O.D. in Florida, absolutely we would go to it and use it. Because after seeing it firsthand and being in that community and seeing the kids that were there, I mean, those kids were happy. They were happy. They were outside. I think they had a pizza party when we was there and they were all outside playing. And those are good kids. And like Brian said, they're willing to work, they want a job, they want to do something. And absolutely, with the labor shortage we have, especially here in Florida, if there was a Project H.O.O.D. anywhere in Florida, we would definitely partner up with them and use their program. Absolutely.
Lauren Morley: And I guess what I would say to that is you might not have Project H.O.O.D., but you do have access to the academy. Right?
Michael Black: Yes.
Lauren Morley: Which recruits people from the exact same type of environment. People who have the same backgrounds, who have the same struggles, trying to enter new industries. Which I think is what's so cool about the connection there, right?
Michael Black: Yep. Absolutely.
Heidi Ellsworth: It is. Well, and in fact, Terry just mentioned here, Terry, thank you so much. "We have just hired a young lady who completed the GAF training in Idaho. It is nice to have someone with some welding skills," I love that, "And she's shown incentive in showing up every day for the GAF training. I really like the all veteran class idea too." So Lauren, maybe talk a little bit more about that.
Lauren Morley: Yeah, I mean, I think I'll say two things to that. People will say, "Oh, a week of training, is that really something?" It is incredible the amount these students learn in such a short period of time. I mean, I tell you on the third day of our training, some of these women knew more than my techs twos do. And I think exactly that. How many of us have hired the guy who walked in the door who just worked in fast food. And she hit the nail on the head about, oh gosh, that was punny. Sorry.
Heidi Ellsworth: No pun. Right?
Lauren Morley: So these people have already put in that extra step to go to this training, which is so much more than most of the people who come to work for us. And they've shown that they can show up for a training every day, which is pretty important. Right? As far as doing the group specific ones, the all women's one or the all veterans one, they're incredible. I mean, honestly, they're life changing. The amount of impact that you're having on these communities is really cool. But I think it comes back to what Brian said, if you're going to do something like that, you have to show up, you have to be involved. To do things like that, I'm very involved with the direct recruiting from different nonprofits in our area because I want to make an impact on my community.
There's ways you can do the academy where you literally just call them and they'll do all the work and they'll recruit for the class and they'll bring them in. And that's still really incredible. They're still helping a great group. But it is pretty awesome being able to do something like the all veterans class and knowing that you're making an impact on that one specific community. If anyone's interested in doing something like that, just reach out to your local GAF territory manager. They should be able to put you in touch with whoever your nearest GAF Academy recruiter is, and then they'll just be your partner from there.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. So Jason too, I think there's probably a lot of people out there who are thinking, "Well, this all sounds great, but I just don't even know where to start. How do I even do that?" And so Jason, you came back from this and you reached out. Did you reach out to GAF or was this just a coincidence that you guys were all meeting? How did that work?
Jason Domecq: Yeah, so actually Lauren and I attended a GAF event, and that's where we first learned about the Roofing Academy. And then that's when we had initially scheduled our lunch with them to just kind of learn more about it. So it was just kind of a coincidence as far as the timing goes with going back to Chicago for this experience and then also coming back and having lunch with them to figure out more really what it was about. And you just never know the type of individual that's going to walk through your door wanting a job, whether they're just an applicant. But the people that actually come to these events, like the Roofing Academy, I mean, there's a need and they want to do something. And more often than not, what we've found so far is that a lot of the people that have come through the academy, it's not just about, like what Lauren said, hitting the nail on the head, if you will, swinging a hammer. It's the experience and what people can bring to the industry from their experiences.
Whether you need someone who knows accounting or knows how to work behind the scenes to help support the actual company doing the rest of the work, whether they're from marketing, whether they want to get into the supply chain world or into the manufacturer world. I mean, it's really about providing that kind of opportunity that can then serve a need to help better the industry. And people don't know what kind of opportunity this is and how inspiring it really can be for them and what kind of growth opportunity that it can really provide to individuals until they actually try it.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right.
Jason Domecq: And we've had so many people come back and say, "You know what? I had no clue. I really had no clue that one, this would be fun. Two, just a lot of opportunity out there. And I can see a path to move forward in."
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. I think that's so strong. And I want to kind of follow, and please, if you have questions or thoughts or anything, but I do want to kind of follow up on some of the other things also that as we're talking about this. So Michael, I'm going to come back to you first just on the sustainability topic. And I know that NRCA is very active right now, on really helping contractors out there on the sustainability side of it and what's happening with environment, what are contractors having to deal with. But there's also a lot of contractors, I think of Peter [inaudible 00:43:55] out of Maine who's doing all this recycling and they're working through a lot of different things. What are some of your thoughts on taking, first of all, helping people get started, but second of all, what's your next steps?
Michael Black: Well, I mean, one thing, first, you got to do is you got to do your research. You got to find out in your local community who actually takes the recycling materials and how to properly get rid of stuff. So that's the first thing I would suggest is go through your local communities and find out who you're recycling people, where you can drop the stuff off, who's actually taking it and all that other stuff. The second step is get with your roofing manufacturers. Some of these roofing manufacturers are already involved in huge recycling plans. I know in some instances, like PVC roofs, we can tear them off, fold them up, palletize them, we can ship them back to their manufacturer in some instances for recyclability. So it's really about getting with your manufacturers. Go to them because they're the big players. They're hooked up with the big nationwide accounts. Get with the manufacturers, ask them how we can recycle the material.
And get with your local communities and see exactly what to do. I know I did a lot of research on Google when I got back to find out where do I take batteries. Just something simple like that. And there's a special battery place here. And just about every place I Google, there's a place where you can take dead batteries, that's recyclable. So it's just a matter of doing your research. And get with the manufacturers because they're already involved. They got programs and I'm sure they'd be more than happy to help you. And that would be my advice is team up with your manufacturers, the roofing material, and then just Google and research your local communities of where you can go and how you can help.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. And I want to say we had amazing Coffee Conversations with Owens Corning on recycling in Q1 of this year. And so you're right. They're doing some amazing things that are going to help everybody take that next step. Karol?
Karol Weyman: And I wanted to mention, there's another, these are the people that are here today, but we had such a great group of people that attended. And one of the people that I want to give a shout-out to is Wendy Marvin, she's a CEO of Matrix Roofing and certainly an influencer in the industry. And one of the things that she commented when we were talking about sustainable materials and methods, this is her quote, "If you start with the end of the lifecycle in mind, there's a paradigm shift. We've agreed as an industry what materials to use, but they aren't necessarily the right ones." So ecosystems and partnerships across not just within them, this can be vital for growth. To be able to think of the end and how that's going to affect what's going to end up in a landfill, what's going to end up not being able to be recycled.
And so I think there was such thought-provoking conversation and just being able to do your research, like Michael's doing and other people, and hearing about Owens Corning and knowing that they are very passionate about that. And they have the resources to potentially do some investigation on that or create a panel on how we can reduce our landfills and reduce. Being in that situation, I mean, our earth is in trouble, whether you want to take that on or not. But everyone has their passion. And so I think another point I wanted to make that someone also mentioned, that people don't live in silos, so why should we operate in them? And so I think being able to connect with people because we do so much more as a group than you can do singly. And so I think everyone, if these are thoughts on your mind and you're attending this and you're thinking to yourself, "Well, what can I do?" Reach out to any one of us. We want to make this a better industry and a better world for people.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah, it's so true. Karol, maybe you can put the blog back into the chat again, just so everybody can see it. So there was a blog on this where you can read all the information on this day and what happened. It's amazing, is so good. And so one of the follow-ups that I want to put out there, and John, this is going to be a shameless plug, but I'd love for you to talk a little bit about how people can get involved with Roofing Technology Think Tank. Because what this visionary day did fits right into the model of Roofing Technology Think tank, maybe you all hear it as RT3. Talk a little bit about that, John.
John Kenney: Sure. Well, you can reach out to me and I'll get you in contact with the right people to get you in there. Or you can go to their website and you can join that way. But let me tell you what I enjoy working with the groups. I'm sitting on a task force just for technology, and there's so many interesting things that are coming out of that. We started out thinking about, well, software is in the industry. We've gone so much further than that now. Thinking about the makeup of the roofing contractor, where their stages of maturity are at compared to the type of technologies they need to embrace and how their companies run. So this is all being done from one idea that started out with, "Hey, we need to standardize how we look at software." So from that, we've opened up a whole new field of where we're looking at to benefit our industry.
And we look at a lot of things. We go out and do these site visits. Right? We do our days out for that. And we have people come in and the amazing technologies are shown at our meetings that you don't normally get exposed to if you weren't involved in it. So I highly recommend anybody in the industry, and it doesn't matter whether you're a contractor, whether you're in consulting or in architectural design, manufacturing, repping, whatever it is, come in, be a part of it, learn about how the industry's moving forward. And the best part about it is we like diverse ideas. OK? So we're not like one idea, we move in that direction. We have changed gears, but stayed on the same ultimate path of making the industry better because everyone has some fantastic ideas that they really melt together working through RT3.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. And it's easy to get involved with the community. And I will say Karen Edwards is the executive director, she's amazing. She's also the CEO of Roofers Coffee Shop. So if you are interested. So that's why I'm kind of like no matter which area today that you're interested in, I wanted to make sure there was a follow-up for everybody to be involved on some level or all three, hopefully. So Brian, I would love to have you talk about the young people. I just think I'd love to have it end on the young people who are interested in getting into the trades or into Dreamworks, I love that, to whatever they're doing. And really how as an industry can we embrace that diversity and become better.
Brian Alexander: Yeah, no, absolutely. I think it comes down to just a couple of things. I think it's exposure because it really is an untapped resource. Even we aren't really capable of really fully understanding really what's possible. But it's our goal to just to expose our youth to as many different opportunities, ways of being, ways of thinking, ways of operating, so that they are able to then form their own opinions about how they really want to go forward and live their life. And that's our job to just be as much of a conduit for that as possible. Within the Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center. I think it's probably the best way to frame it up for the youth. So within this facility, and this is all going to be, we're just scaling the operations that we currently have now.
But for example, this summer, we'll have over 250 youth in a free summer camp. Right? Last year, we kicked it off and some of our really, really great partners, like folks from American Airlines came down, took our kids out two or three times over the course of the summer to go visit aircraft hangars, to take them on site, to let them understand, well, these are the sorts of jobs that are available within this space. Right? Here are the different skill sets that kind of go into them. And here are the people who are living these lives and they come from backgrounds that are similar to yours. Immediately then, that light bulb goes off for a ton of them. And we start hearing them say, "I think I want to leave, I want to go to college," or, "Hey, what about that one job over here?" Or, "The one lady who came, is that still available?" And things like that.
So we're just super, super grateful for you guys just being present to the opportunities that are available with our youth and really look forward to just being as much of a conduit as we can for that work as well. So just, I mean, exposure. Mentorship is another one. It just helps out a ton. And again, these kids, they just need to, if you can't see it, then you can't be it. Right? You have to kind of plant, use these things as opportunities to really plant these seeds and get them to understand the opportunities that are truly, truly available to them as well.
Heidi Ellsworth: I love it. Well, I do want to say the three brothers and the cousin who are working for a roofing company and flying to South Carolina, please give them our name and have them send us their story and their information. We would love to get that out for everyone and talk about that.
Brian Alexander: Will do. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah.
Brian Alexander: Absolutely. Yes.
Heidi Ellsworth: That is so awesome.
Karol Weyman: It gives me chills. That does give me chills.
Heidi Ellsworth: I know, I know. It's so amazing. So Karol, I can't believe it. It always goes so fast.
Karol Weyman: Top of the hour.
Heidi Ellsworth: Close to the top of the hour. Can you just kind of do a little recap for us? These are the pictures at the end of the day from the event. Just kind of give us a little bit of recap on everything that's happened today. It's just been so amazing.
Karol Weyman: Yeah. So I mean, again, this panel is amazing because they really took everything that we had exposed them to and went above and beyond. And so I guess what I really would like to do is challenge anybody to come up with some other topics or some other areas of need or places of need and is willing to host potentially the next summit. And we would be on board and we would help. And I think that there's great people that can take it to the next level and really make a difference long term. And so I guess what I would like to ask is if anyone is interested in hosting, please reach out to me. I would love to hear them and we'd love to make something happen.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah.
Karol Weyman: Yeah, so thank you.
Heidi Ellsworth: I think we're going to be on talking quite a bit, Karol. We have a lot out there. And I do want to say, Elizabeth just said, "Listening in from Sika Corporation, most of these conversations gave me chills today. So inspiring. Happy to help anyone understand more of how we recycle and reuse our roof membranes. Looking forward to reaching out and learning more myself about getting involved in the mentoring program." So Elizabeth, thank you. That is so great and I agree with you. We're going to be having some discussions. We got to do this again and we'll be bringing the troops together. Right? We bring us all together and make this happen some more, this visionary. And just kudos to Jobba for really bringing this together the first time. And Karol, everything you did. So any last comments from our panelists? Anybody, any thoughts that you'd like to share before we end this great Coffee Conversation? John, I'm going to have you just give a little last thought.
John Kenney: Sure. This was great, that we had this. I'm looking forward to the next one. Always. I love the innovation. I love getting people together and thinking outside the box. You can't go wrong. And again, it goes back to what we said, there's excitement and fear about change. There always will be. But when you get a chance to come together and actually talk it out and see what's going on out there and educate, education takes away fear. And when you know what's going on and how you can use things and better progress through all the technologies and all the great things that are out there, sustainability, training. And again, Brian, kudos. You guys are doing such a great job with the youth. I was excited to see that and I look so much forward to seeing where we go next.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's so cool. Michael, I see you nodding.
Michael Black: Yeah, no, it was a truly great experience. I enjoyed being there. I enjoyed the group of people we was with. We had a lot of conversations, a lot of ideas. It was very helpful for me, myself, to bring ideas back. And I know others have too. There's people that were there, again, that are not on this call, that I talked to that got a lot out of this experience. So I think it's good for the industry that this happens. That we get together, we share ideas, we learn about stuff, and then we go out and we actually do what we're learning about and help the community out. I think that's the best.
Heidi Ellsworth: Come together. Jason?
Jason Domecq: Yeah, no, thanks again for just the opportunity and, again, to be a part of this conversation. And it really is just about what we can do to further the education within our industry, helping to promote positive change and just providing opportunities to really help transform lives. And this has just really been all about that in my mind. Those are my kind of takeaways from the experience. And just so grateful and honored to have been a part of it. Thank you.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's so cool. And Lauren, bring us home. Last thoughts.
Lauren Morley: Yeah, I mean, I definitely won't miss the next one. I promise. I can report I'm excited. And yeah, just we're so appreciative to be a part of it. It's been a crazy last year for Jason and I. We've gotten to a lot of really, really cool things. And I can't really wait to see what impact that has on others in the industry and what more we can continue to do.
Heidi Ellsworth: I love it. And I want to say thank you to everyone who's on. I hope panelists you were reading all the chats that are coming through. Thank you, everybody, for your kind words and for being so inspired and being a part of this. Please share the on demand link for this episode so that other people can see it and we can continue to spread the word and really make sure that we continue this. We continue what Jobba did. Jobba, thank you so much. Karol, thank you so much for everything you do for being here today.
Karol Weyman: Thank you. Thank you.
Heidi Ellsworth: Thank you. And I do want to say we are going to continue it, in two weeks. We are going to be having Your Mind Matters: Mental Health Awareness Month. And we are very excited. We are going to have Mandy McIntyre, who is a mental health expert in roofing with Level Up, and Paul Reid, who is one of the co-founders of Roofers in Recovery. This is going to be powerful and it's something that everybody needs to know about because this, again, saves lives. So join us, two weeks is going to be May 11th, same time, same [inaudible 00:58:53] channel. And I just want to thank all of you. Thank you, panelists. Thank you, everyone, for being here. And we will see you next time on Coffee Conversations.
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